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How to Keep a Garden Snail as a Pet

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Caring for a pet snail is pretty uncomplicated. So, if you intend to keep a garden snail as your pet, you should go for it.

You might be wondering, how do I keep a garden snail as a pet? Well, at the least, keeping a snail involves providing the right home for it and feeding it.

But apart from just food and shelter, you must set the right conditions: substrate, hygiene, lighting, amongst other things.

hand holding snail pet

Without further ado, here are the details of all you need to set in place for your pet snail.

Preparing a Pet Snail House

Pet snails are typically housed in small containers like clear glass jars or tanks. The container should come with a lid that has vent holes. But in the absence of one, you may use gauze or cheesecloth held with a rubber band. Covering the container with a lid helps ensure the snail does not escape.

Once you get the container, wash it, dry it, then fill it with soil and substrate.

The soil and substrate for a pet snail house can have as many as 3 layers. The bottom layer should be filled with a thin layer of gravel – for drainage.

Above the gravel, add some soil – even the regular soil from your garden will do. Then atop the soil layer, add the substrates. Some pet snail substrates you may get include sphagnum moss, coconut coir, and compost. You should be able to buy any of them from a pet store, garden center, or online store.

Next up, provide a hideout for the pet snail. A small-sized pot placed on its side and slightly buried in the container should do the trick.

Besides hiding out, the pot serves as a means for the snail to climb. You can also provide a piece of bark for this purpose. Ensure you let the bark rest on the side of the terrarium.

You may also add rocks to the terrarium. This will help to simulate their natural environment. And while at that, you may introduce some twigs, dried leaves, and plants too.

Once it is all set, water the plants to keep the soil moist but not wet and place the terrarium in a spot that does not get too much lighting; snails love hiding in dark places.

garden snail on a twig

Where to Get a Pet Snail

Once you have the snail terrarium set, the next step is to get the snail if you do not have it already.

It is pretty easy to find a garden snail in your garden, especially when you have vegetables. When you go out looking for snails, check the underside of the leaves. They are typically found hanging from the juicy ones.

If having a hard time finding a snail in your garden, you may wait until evening or night. Snails are typically more active at night.

You will have better luck finding snails during the rainy season. But in winter, they typically hibernate, so they are not as easy to find.

When retrieving the snails, pick them up by their shells gently. Also, ensure you only collect as many snails as the terrarium will fit comfortably.

Food to Feed Pet Snails

Snails eat a range of food items, including vegetables and fruits. However, you should avoid giving them citrus fruits.

Some fruits you can offer your snails include:

  • Raspberries
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Peaches
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Kiwis
snail eating a cabbage

You can offer your snail the following vegetables:

  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Barley
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Parsley
  • Broccoli

Besides the above, you may also give them tortoise food or snail food. Alternatively, you may get cat food or dog food (dry or wet) for the snails.

To make cleanup easier, place the snail food in a bowl and cut the fruits or veggies into smaller pieces, so the snails can feed on them readily.

If you do not get the fruits or veggies fresh from your garden, ensure you wash them before offering them to the snails. This way, you can get the pesticides off them.

Cleaning the Snail House

As we mentioned earlier, hygiene is a vital part of keeping a pet snail. To this end, you should clean the snail house regularly and prevent it from getting smelly in the first place.

To keep the snail house clean, do the following:

  • Replace the food every day. Do not let food rot in the container.
  • If the soil appears dry, moisten it up by spraying some water over it. While moistening the soil, sprinkle some water on the sides of the container to humidify it.
  • Every other day or every week, ensure you clean the sides of the container. You can do this with paper towels or a sponge.
  • Every week, get the contents of the container out and rinse them. Then replace the substrate layer with fresh leaves.
girl smiling looking at her pet snail eating lettuce

Benefits of Keeping a Pet Snail

  • They are quiet and peaceful.
  • Snails only need limited space to thrive.
  • Snails are inexpensive to keep – you can set up their terrarium with low-cost materials. Also, they are cheap to feed, especially since they are so tiny.
  • Children can handle them easily. However, you should pay attention to the kids because of hygiene issues.
  • They are not needy.

Final Thoughts

Keeping a garden snail as a pet is pretty straightforward. House it, feed it, and ensure proper hygiene, and it should do just fine.

Ensure you wash your hands right after handling the snail or its terrarium. Also, when children touch the snail, ensure you monitor them. And when they are done, wash their hands too.

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